CRESTWOOD, Ill. (CBS) — More than 100 youth soccer players, and their parents, staged a protest outside of the village hall in south suburban Crestwood, over a proposal to turn the fields they use into a village park.

The privately-run Crestwood Soccer Club has had exclusive use of the five fields, on land beneath high-tension wires that is leased by the village from ComEd, for more than 20 years.

“We treat them like they are our own,” said Rob McKay, a volunteer board member at the club.

He said the club has spent “countless” money and volunteer hours transforming the rock-strewn land into pristine soccer fields and is adamant that allowing the public to use the fields would destroy them and the club.

Mayor Louis Presta decided, after children trespassed onto the land several months ago, that he would transform the fields into parks anyone could use.

McKay bristles at the idea and said the land has never been used as a village park.

The children and their parents chanted “Save our club” for two hours as passing motorists honked their approval outside of village hall, at 13840 Cicero Av. McKay said the club has offered to provide soccer goals, nets, flags and other items to the village if they will agree to turn the ComEd right-of-way immediately to the west of the club into a village park and allow the club to retain exclusive use rights to the land, off 139th Street between Cicero and Lavergne.

McKay concedes that there has never been anything more formal than a handshake agreement over the club’s use of the leased land. He said he fears that if the fields are opened to the public, they would quickly destroy the goals and nets and leave the fields unusable.

Approval of the needed revisions to the 36-year-old village parks ordinance to convert the leased land into a village park is expected when the board meets at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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